Do sponsors hate Fifa enough to put on real pressure?
The only way to get reform soon in Fifa will be through pressure from the sponsors. And even that may not work.
Adidas, Coca-Cola, Gazprom, Hyandai and Visa pour $177 million and more a year into Fifa’s coffers. A further $131 million comes from second-tier sponsors such as McDonalds and Budweiser. A further $46 million comes from a third tier of sponsors.
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We can’t expect much from the Fifa congress. Many of the delegates will come from countries where payments we may consider corrupt are seen as a commission. And they will not take to being lectured by the west given the involvement of western companies in bribery. Here’s a short list of what they could point to:
- Siemens pays out $1.6 billion to settle bribery allegations in 20 countries;
- Rolls-Royce, the engine company, under investigation for bribery as we speak;
- Airbus under investigation for briary;
- Hewlett-Packard coughs up for bribery;
- WalMart executives depart after bribery scandal; and
- Microsoft distributors in Romania caught up in bribing politicians.
But will the sponsors take real action? It depends how big the stink is. And there’s others waiting to take their place who do not have such sensitive noses. Gazprom, the Russian oil giant, is hardly likely to pull out given Putin’s support for the present leadership. Putin sees this as yet another attack on Russia by the west, upset at not getting the World Cup. So there may be more sponsors from Russia. And from its allies: perhaps companies in Belarus, China and Kazakhstan will want to enhance their global brand awareness through sponsorship.
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